Last week my daughter had to choose an author to do a report on. She told her teacher she wanted to do me, but the teacher thought she'd have an unfair advantage in the research department, considering we live in the same house. So she decided to write about Judy Blume.
I know that she didn't pick Judy because she's read all of her books, because she hasn't. Or that she knew all of Judy's accomplishments, because she doesn't. She chose Judy because she got to hang out at Judy's house and go kayaking, and she still thinks it was one of the funnest (most fun?) things she's ever done.
Every summer we go to Martha's Vineyard, and Judy has a house on the Vineyard. It was the summer that EVERYTHING came out and the Martha's Vineyard Book Festival asked me to speak.
So there I was on a warm Sunday morning in August speaking to a group of people under a white tent at the Chilmark Community Center, and at the end of my little talk I asked if anyone had any questions. A woman sitting toward the back raised her hand and stood up. She had on a baseball cap and sunglasses. Before asking her question she proceeded to remove the sunglasses and baseball cap. At which point I realized it wasn't just a curious reader, it was Judy Blume. All I could say was, "Everyone, that's Judy Blume." And thank god I actually knew what she looked like!
It was quite surreal. Judy and her husband and I talked afterward and she was so gracious and lovely and sharp as a tack - the woman has no problem speaking her mind, as you'd imagine. Not to mention she's really very pretty.
Then a few days later I received an email inviting my family to Judy's house for an afternoon. Me at Judy Blume's house. The woman who wrote DEENIE, and STARRING SALLY J. and ARE YOU THERE GOD? Talk about surreal. Of course I said yes.
We spent the afternoon with Judy and her husband, drinking wine and having cheese and crackers, watching the kids kayak on the pond, walking around the property, seeing where she writes. Needless to say it was pretty cool. And when I mentioned that I loved reading Norma Klein as a girl, Judy told me that she'd been very good friends with Norma and relayed some fascinating stories - a total bonus.
So that's the real reason my daughter chose to write about Judy Blume. Because she has a cool rope swing in her yard. Because there are geese droppings you have to tiptoe around - and geese too! Because she has kayaks and overlooks the pond. Because her place on the Vineyard resemembles a really neat sleepaway camp. And sure, she writes books, too.
The trade paperback version of EVERYTHING I NEEDED TO KNOW ABOUT BEING A GIRL I LEARNED FROM JUDY BLUME comes out in April - if you're a fan, check it out.